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Expecting to Change the World: A Reply to James Davison Hunter

July 22nd, 2010 | 8 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

Milliner's synopsis about my reply to James Davison Hunter is accurate, even if his praise is overstated. And make no mistake--it is.

But because a few folks have asked, I am posting my full remarks to Hunter here.  I'll have a few more thoughts on the exchange (which you can also watch online) and on Hunter's book later, but in the meantime, if you've read it or were at the event, I'd love to hear your feedback.


When I mentioned to a senior member of the Christian community here in Washington D.C. that I was going to be responding to Dr. Hunter tonight, he graciously advised me that I would do well to simply agree with him and take my seat. Whether that was a comment on the accuracy of Professor Hunter’s ideas or my own intellectual acumen I leave to you to decide. But given that I am not prone to using exclamation points, much less acting as one, I will foolishly demure from my elder’s sagacious advice and blaze—as I have often attempted to do—my own way.

I am grateful for Professor Hunter’s remarks, and even more for his remarkable book. There are few works that articulate many of the core frustrations that I have felt as patiently as his did. As a son of an evangelical pastor, a student at an evangelical university, a teacher of evangelical homeschoolers, and a staff member at a young-evangelical church, I have known well the emptiness of the evangelical community and have been a participant in attempts to revive it. I speak , in other words, the language of world-changing fluently.

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Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.